Thanks to Marc Brown, we've learned to work and play and get along with each other. Well, OK, maybe our parents had something to do with that too, but Brown certainly played a crucial role.
The American author created a cultural phenomenon with the conception of Arthur Read, a bespectacled aardvark with a penchant for learning everything life had to offer. Though Arthur was first introduced in the 1976 children's book Arthur's Nose, the character became part of our everyday lives thanks to PBS' TV adaptation of Brown's Arthur Adventure book series.
Who doesn't vividly remember rushing to the couch with a snack to see what Arthur, Buster and the rest of the gang were up to? So when PBS announced last July that Arthur would be ending with its 25th season in 2022, we understandably balled our hands up into a fist. But, over time, we became grateful for everything Arthur taught us. Like, did you know that fun isn't hard when you've got a library card?
To properly kick off Arthur's final chapter at PBS—which airs Feb. 21 after a special marathon of 250 Arthur episodes—we sat down with Marc Brown himself to discuss the show's lasting legacy, his favorite character and so much more.
Are you ready to have a wonderful kind of day?
E! News: When you first created the Arthur book, did you have any idea that these characters were going to have such a long lasting legacy?
Marc Brown: Absolutely none. I was right out of art school, I had no idea what I was doing. I had a very patient editor, who explained to me that I could do more with one good sentence than I was doing with two paragraphs. And when I was working on the new book, Believe in Yourself, I went back and I reread the very first Arthur book. Arthur's Nose ends with the sentence: "There's a lot more to Arthur than his nose." And I thought, "Wow, was that true or what?" He took me on all these wonderful adventures for all these years. I never could have met four United States presidents if it weren't for Arthur.
E!: What theme that the Arthur franchise has addressed are you proudest of?
MB: Telling kids the truth. We all look to the media to tell us the truth, and it's not so easy to find these days. And, also, kids over the years, have learned to trust Arthur. And they look to him as someone who is real, he makes mistakes, he needs help from his family and his friends. They see he has a good heart. That is something that endears him to a lot of kids.
E!: Obviously the show has impacted so many people. What fan encounter stands out to you?
MB: It's a dad who saw the show about autism and recognized that his own son was autistic. And I thought, "Wow."
E!: Which character is your favorite?
MB: D.W.! She is the embodiment of my three younger sisters. I love getting inside her head. I mean, she's just full of trouble and spunk and fun. And she's so much fun to write lines for. She just says the best stuff.
E!: Arthur has lived on in memes and on TikTok. Have you seen any of these viral moments?
MB: I am amazed that these young people who grew up with Arthur, that these characters have stayed with them and made an impression on how they think. The fact that they're using a character's personality as a reference point in their social media, I find that very interesting. And it makes me pleased that these characters have become that iconic that other people understand what they're saying. When I first saw LeBron James using the fist in his social media, I thought, "That is pretty cool." And then he did some Arthur sneakers for Nike! Or John Legend, I love the fact that he thinks he's Arthur.
E!: What would you like to say to the Arthur fan who feels that their childhood is coming to a close with the end of the series?
MB: I want to step into the character of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld: "No more shows for you." But the truth is, we've done, like, over 600 stories, and we've done specials. And those are going to run on PBS for years and years to come. We decided not to do more programs, but to investigate other media, other forms of technology and media that have come along since we began. So that's what we want to concentrate on next. Look for new ways to reach kids.
E!: How so?
MB: I like that we can put out these public service, animated spots. We did a couple of them about voting, because voting this past presidential election got very confrontational and difficult for kids trying to understand what's going on. We did a wonderful piece on racism for kids, and understanding racism. And that sprung out of meeting John Lewis years ago at a book signing in Washington. And I asked him if he would be a guest star on Arthur, and to do a show for kids about standing up for something that you believe in. That's one of my favorite moments of all the guest stars that we've had.
We've had some wonderful guest stars, Fred Rogers was our second guest star, and he became a friend as a result of that.
E!: And what's next for you?
MB: Working on Arthur all these years and learning about television has given me the confidence to take on a new television project called Hop. It's about a little frog, whose one leg is a little shorter than the other, so he doesn't hop too well. And he has this fun group of friends, and it's a series about the power of friendship and solving problems together. And I'm really excited about it.
Maybe, just maybe, our childhood isn't over yet. While we wait for the farewell to Arthur on PBS, check out Brown's latest book, Believe in Yourself: What We Learned from Arthur, out now.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.)